Photos: Print-at-home chocolate to robot snakes - 10 weirdest items made by 3D printers

Photos: Print-at-home chocolate to robot snakes - 10 weirdest items made by 3D printers

Summary: Next stop, Star Trek's replicator...

TOPICS: Hardware

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  • 3D printed car

    Urbee car

    This is the first car in the world to be made inside of a printer.

    The fetching orange bodywork of the Urbee is made from lightweight body panels that were produced by a 3D printer.

    The body panels were printed using additive printing, where layers of material are placed on top of each other and fused or bonded together to build the finished object.

    At present, only the single Urbee prototype car exists, but its makers hope to start selling the printed car by 2014. The car makers plan to use more printed car parts in future models of the Urbee, using printed parts for the interior and parts of the chassis.

    The Urbee's makers hope that ultimately 3D printing will make it easier to repair the car, as vehicle parts would not have to be shipped but could be printed out at the nearest 3D printing facility. They claim that printing is more environmentally friendly than traditional car manufacturing processes because it only uses the materials needed to produce the car.

    The car is driven by an eight-horsepower ethanol-fuelled engine that the car makers say is capable of doing 200 miles per gallon.

    Photo: Urbee

  • 3D printed plane


    Nervous fliers might baulk at the idea of taking a trip on a printed plane but there's no faulting the aerodynamics of this aircraft.

    The electric-powered aircraft has a two-metre wingspan and a top speed of nearly 100mph but is almost silent in cruise mode.

    The entire plane was printed out using a nylon laser sintering machine that builds up objects layer by layer and then fuses them together using a laser. The plane was printed in separate parts and then snapped together.

    The Southampton University team that made the plane says the 3D printing approach allows an aircraft to be developed from concept to first flight in days. In comparison, manufacturing a plane using conventional materials and manufacturing techniques, such as composites, would normally take months and require expensive tools.

    The plane's elliptical wind shape is modelled on that of the famous World War II plane the Spitfire, according to professor Andy Keane of Southampton University, who said the laser sintering process removed the complexity and cost of manufacturing an elliptical wing using traditional methods.

    Photo: University of Southampton

  • 3D printed flute


    It might not be appearing in an orchestra any time soon, but this 3D-printed flute can play any tune you care to try out.

    The fully functioning instrument was printed by students in MIT's Media Lab. The flute is made up of three parts that took almost 15 hours to print out using an Objet Connex500 3D printer.

    The 3D flute is made with three different materials: one for the body, another for the mouthpiece and a third for the seals in the keys. The only part of the flute that wasn't printed were the springs for the keys.

    Photo: amitzoran/YouTube

Topic: Hardware


Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic UK. He writes about the technology that IT-decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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